Unfazed by recent revelations that the Watauga County Board of Commissioners [BOC] from 2006 to 2010 implemented misguided policies that have resulted in taxpayers overpaying for the new high school by more than $32 million [see letter to the editor: “The New High School Project: A Study in Financial Mismanagement (2006-2010)”, 19 February 2013], Dan Meyer of the Boone Area Chamber of Commerce is advocating compounding the taxpayers’ bill by through additional uncompetitive BOC policies [see letter to the editor: “A Salute to Using Local Vendors”, 6 March 2013].
Dan Meyer salutes the BOC for “considering” a policy that would provide preferences to local vendors in purchasing equipment and supplies for the county to the tune of five percent or $ 10,000 above the low bid. So confident is Mr. Meyer that the BOC will do his bidding that later in his letter the BOC “consideration” becomes a BOC “proposal”, as if the idea were already a done deal. Hopefully it is not a done deal.
What Mr. Meyer leaves unstated is that Watauga County taxpayers would be on the hook for the additional costs. Apparently Mr. Meyer finds this detail unimportant.
More generally what Mr. Meyer is recommending is “crony capitalism” whereby the well-connected Chamber of Commerce utilizes the BOC to avoid competitive pressures of the markets.
This “crony capitalism” would be harmful to both free market capitalism and democracy in Watauga County—not to mention the taxpayers. The BOC would pay higher prices to the well-connected vendors, and taxpayers would foot the bill. This is a system of privatized gains and socialized losses. History shows that such a system often leads to outright corruption.
The best way for the BOC to be pro-business is for it to be pro-markets.
It is worth observing how some businessmen like free markets in the abstract, while in practice they would deny market entry to others.
Nate Di Cola